Tag Archives: thought catalog

Why Did Ultron Have Lips? And Other Questions About Avengers 2

Did you see the new Avengers movie this weekend? I saw it. It was cool. Was it a good movie? I can’t be sure. I’m afraid that a lifetime spent obsessively reading comic books has left me unable to form a genuine opinion about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m just in awe of the fact that it even exists. When I was a little kid, I would have murdered someone for the chance to see a decent Spider-Man movie. And now we have like twelve of them.


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Here’s What You Need To Know Before Dating An Environmentalist

Does your significant other get really bent out of shape trying to explain to friends and family members the looming threat of unlabeled GMO food? Maybe he or she is really into organic farming and spreading awareness about the dangers of recombinant bovine growth hormone. Doesn’t it just drive them crazy, thinking about big oil, about fossil fuels and climate change, about the rising levels of mercury in our already overfished waters? If you can identify with me, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re dating an environmentalist, which is a pretty big catch-all label, sure. But environmentalists care, they really, really care. That’s the whole point.

  • Flickr / Steven Depolo

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5 most haunted spots in my house

People think I’m being a little crazy, everyone’s telling me that it’s all in my head, that my house isn’t haunted. They’re only partially right. It’s not all haunted. But certain spots are really haunted. Here are the five most haunted spots in my house:

1. The basement stairs

Yeah, I guess everybody’s basement stairs are haunted to some extent. But you know that feeling you get when you’re at the bottom and you turn the lights off and you have to sprint upstairs all while you can just feel the otherworldly spirits reaching out to pull you back down? I’ve experienced that everywhere, my childhood home growing up, my grandparent’s place. And for real, it’s significantly more pronounced in my basement.

Even worse, my basement staircase is its own separate room. There’s a door on the first floor dividing it from the living room, and another door at the bottom that closes off the actual basement. I’m pretty sure that the architects who designed the house recognized the evil inherent in that narrow corridor, and so they did their best to localize the darkness by sealing it in from both sides. Which is fine if I’m in the basement with the door closed or upstairs in the living room with the door closed. But as soon as either one of those doors is opened up even a crack, it’s like you can feel the ominous presence start to encroach upon your soul. If I was the kind of guy who lit candles, I’m almost positive they’d all get blown out in unison.

2. The haunted crawlspace off the basement stairs

I’m still on the basement stairs here. Once you get to the bottom, there’s that door to the left that goes to the basement. But there’s also another door straight ahead that leads into this weird dungeon area. That’s where you’d go if you wanted to do work on the pipes that connect to the street and everything, and so when you’re in there, you look up and it’s all subterranean, pools of moisture that don’t have any specific source, or random cracks in the concrete that would make really comfortable habitats for rats or possums, that is, if that architectural abscess were capable of sustaining biological life.

And the door won’t close all the way. There’s a doorknob, which should close in theory, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t click shut. So the previous owner nailed this tiny little latch to keep the void from constantly gaping out to the rest of the house. Only, even with the latch, the door is still just a little bit open, just a crack. And it’s like, that’s all it needs, just that inch, so that every time I go downstairs, not only do I have to ignore the spirits that occupy the stairway, I have to simultaneously keep out of my head whatever it is that lurks behind that creepy second door. And I can feel it, calling out to me, creepy looking ghost fingers trying to paw through from the other side. When I’m away, do the voices in the two rooms whisper to each other, make plans on how they’re going to lure me deeper inside?

3. Underneath my kitchen sink.

This is a subtler haunted spot, because it’s so small. When I first moved in, I had naturally assumed that the entire kitchen was haunted. But upon further examination, I was able to pinpoint the origin of any spooky activity to directly under the kitchen sink. The first obvious sign was the total disappearance of sponges. There are never any sponges. And I’m constantly buying them, the five-packs, the high quality yellow-bottomed-green-topped good sponges. When I get home, I put them with the other kitchen cleaning supplies, right underneath the sink. So where are they? There’s just no way I could be going through that many sponges. It’s like whatever lives in there is consuming them by the multi-pack.

Also, did I leave it open? The cabinet door? I don’t think so. Stuff like this happens all the time. And if I’m ever guaranteed to be surprised by a cockroach or a silverfish, it’s almost always coming from that two-by-two cupboard of horror. There’s no food under there, and it’s relatively free of clutter. The only possible explanation is ghosts. Lots of very small ghosts.

4. My guest bedroom

Totally haunted. Which, I mean, if I have to have ghosts hanging out in the house, I guess I’d rather them hang out in the guest bedroom than in my bedroom. It gives me the sense that they’re respecting boundaries, that they realized they’re merely guests in my house. Or I could just be projecting too much of my own hopes and fears into the situation. Maybe the guest bedroom is haunted because that’s where something crazy went down. Like a murder. Or a possession. Or a murderous series of possession, all eventually culminating in right now, me living in this house, the ghosts just waiting for my wife and I to get into a big enough fight where one of us storms out of the master bedroom to sleep in the guest bedroom for the night.

And that’s when it’s going to happen, because the guy is always the one that storms out, pillow and guest blanket in hand, full of anger, ripe for murderous possession. Or maybe it’s the guest bed. Maybe the wood that the bedframe is made out of came from a tree, a cursed tree, maybe some crazy violent possessed lunatic hung himself on that tree, and then when they found his body and cut it down, they accidentally cut his neck, and all of his possessed evil blood spilled onto the ground, into the soil, through the roots, making the tree even more evil, and now it’s in my guest bed, it is my guest bed. Whatever it is, it’s haunted, it’s the most haunted guest bedroom ever.

5. My printer

I didn’t use to believe that printers could be haunted, but that’s because I’ve never owned a haunted printer before. Now that I own one, I want to get the word out there: printers can definitely be haunted. It started out innocently enough, I’d click print, I’d get random messages popping up on my computer like, “There’s no printer connected,” or, “There’s no ink,” even though I just bought ink, there’s no way that I could be out of ink already.

But then pages started printing randomly, without any prompting from me, pages of characters and incomprehensible text. That was my first hunch that something dark might be living inside the printer. But it was only after I had my next ink cartridge blessed by a priest that I came to conclusively believe that what lurked inside was pure evil. It spazzed out and sputtered around, for a while only printing out documents in blood red tones. Finally the strange activity subsided somewhat, but I still think that it’s haunted, that it’s just waiting there for the malevolent printer company to remotely send it an evil firmware update. And I’d get rid of it, I really would, but printers are so expensive, and it’s last on a long list of haunted repairs and maintenance that I need taken care of here. Like, do you know how much it costs to replace just the kitchen sink cabinets?

There are so many more haunted hot spots in my house, like our haunted Oster twelve-speed blender, or my left hiking boot, but the haunting are more obscure and hard to articulate, and in terms of conclusive proof, well, it’s conclusive to me, I mean, I can feel it, but … you think I’m crazy, right? Why does everyone think I’m nuts? Did you just hear that? No, you’re reading this from your house, how would you hear that? Unless your shower curtain rod is haunted like mine is, and maybe they can send each other haunted messages. No, that’s nuts. Is it?

Originally published at Thought Catalog

6 things only people from Queens will understand

When I say that I’m from Queens, what I really mean is, I grew up on Long Island, and moved to Astoria right after college. That’s the same as being from Queens, right? Anybody? Listen, Queens is like the number one immigrant destination in the country. And so, technically, yes, I can say I’m from Queens, just like my neighbors from Lahore can say that they’re from Queens too. My journey just happened to lack all of that hardship and sacrifice. Yeah, I guess mine wasn’t really much of a journey. I think my dad drove in with the minivan to help move the mattress to my first apartment.

But come on. Long Island’s not that far away. And do I really have to get out the map? Queens, Long Island, even Brooklyn, it’s all the same geographical landmass. I’m not even kidding, one time I rode my bike from my place in Queens to my parents’ house on Long Island. It didn’t even take that much more than an hour. Also, Queens is huge. It’s the biggest borough. Like once you get past where the subways don’t run anymore, those outer Queens neighborhoods are virtually identical to where I grew up. Some of them are even much nicer (I’m looking at you, Douglaston.)

So whatever, call me a poser, but here are 6 things only people from Queens will understand.

  1. Diversity

OK, maybe you don’t have to be from Queens to understand diversity, but our borough is like a modern day Ellis Island. You know, without the typhoid quarantine rooms and forced name-changing registration books. OK, look, I went to an all-boys Catholic high school (on Long Island) where only about ten out of the sixteen hundred students weren’t white. So I can appreciate how any comments about diversity coming out of my mouth tend to sound straight out an after-school-special. But for real, Queens is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the country.

And I’m not just talking about all the different restaurants available to deliver take-out. (Although, from Filipino fast-food chains to the best falafel in New York, we’ve got basically every food group covered.) I’m talking about people with backgrounds from all over world living together in this multicultural ethnic tapestry. Sure, that sounds cheesy as hell, but it’s true. In Queens, different communities oftentimes exist occupying the same exact space. The result, I think, is the truest example of America as a melting pot.

  1. Wait, where?

In Queens. What, you’re lost? Well, nobody really gets lost anymore, not since everybody started carrying around their own personal GPS inside their pockets. But even if you do know where you’re going, if you’re going to get lost anywhere in modern America, it’s probably going to be in Queens.

Don’t believe me? I live on 31st Drive. The next street over is 31st Road. After that it’s 31st Avenue. Confusing? Yeah. I get rings on my doorbell all the time, delivery guys that can’t tell if it was me that ordered food or one of my almost identically addressed counterparts. Apparently there’s supposed to be some order behind what looks like chaos, although you might need an advanced degree in urban planning in order to figure out the system. Just don’t get discouraged if you can’t find your way around Queens. In addition to Roads, Avenues, and Drives, there are Crescents, Terraces, Streets, Places and Lanes. Take solace in the fact that you’re hardly the first person to get totally lost meeting a friend at 60th and 60th.

  1. No, seriously, where? Is that a hyphen?

Oh yeah, and to make things just a little more confusing, all of the street addresses are two sets of numbers separated by a hyphen. Nothing says going to Queens quite like typing in a bunch of hyphenated numerals into your maps app followed by, “Sorry, we couldn’t find that address. Did you mean …” No, I meant it like I wrote it. It’s the same with online delivery. “We are unable to verify your address. Send anyway?” Come on, you can’t figure out how to incorporate a dash into an online address form?

There’s actually a good reason for the hyphen. It’s supposed to serve as a small clue to help you get a little closer to figuring out where you’re going. So if you’re address is, let’s say, 12-34 32nd Street, then the second part, that 34, tells you that the cross street is 34th Avenue. In theory, this is great. It gets a little complicated though when, say, then next avenue after 34th Ave. is Broadway, and then it picks up again with 31st. In that case, I think they just make up a random number, at least to maintain the continuity of the hyphen.

  1. Shea Stadium was cooler

Yes, it was a dump. But it was our dump. Have the Mets won any World Series since they moved to Citibank Field? I’m not saying it’s a direct causal relationship, but it’s hard to ignore such striking evidence. And why did Citibank get to take over the Mets? How come the Yankees got to keep their stadium as simply Yankee Stadium while we have to suffer the indignity of the corporate branding? Does anybody else feel a little dirty saying “Pepsi Porch?”

Shea Stadium was awesome. The post-modern ruins of the World’s Fair, that giant metal globe at Corona Park, that other stadium across the way where they play tennis once a year, all of it capped off by those huge neon baseball player silhouettes that lined the perimeter of Shea. I don’t know, maybe Citi Field will grow on me in like twenty or thirty years, but every time I see that logo, all I think is, “Sorry we almost ruined the economy. Thanks for selling us the Mets.”

  1. Does that Wendy’s Look Familiar?

The one that was on Queens Boulevard, don’t you feel like you’ve seen it somewhere? Maybe a classic 1980s comedy? Yep, that was it, the McDowell’s from Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America. Unfortunately, they tore it down in 2013 to make room for some ultra luxury condo or something. I always ride my bike to and from work across the Queensboro Bridge, and once in a while I’d stay on the bike lane to Queens Boulevard. I’d ride to Wendy’s, thinking about asking for a manager and saying something like, “When you think of garbage, think of Akeem!”

But I never made it inside. I’d always get too tempted by the White Castle just down the block. There used to be a White Castle right across from where I live by 21st Street. But one day I went to get a Crave Case and there was a sign on the door: “Sorry! We’re closing down! Visit us at Queens Boulevard!” I was so pissed, but a little hopeful. I thought, man, if they got White Castle to close up shop, there must be something really amazing coming to take its place. And I waited and watched as construction crews came and did all of this work behind taped-up windows. And then one day, finally, the big reveal: a Radio Shack. I’ve never been more disappointed in my life. Honestly, in like two years since it’s been in business, I’ve never any customers inside. I have no idea how they’re turning a profit. White Castle, on the other hand, had a line out the door, twenty-four hours a day. They even had a pedestrian drive-thru on the outside, for those times where you really wanted White Castle, but just didn’t feel like going all the way inside.

6.   Queens is the best

I got off topic a little, but Queens is great. It’s the greatest borough in the city. If I had to rank all five boroughs, I’d start with Queens as number one, obviously, and then I’d get so bored thinking about all of the other boroughs, like Staten Island, or Brooklyn, and I’d just give up, because who cares? Let them all be tied for a very, very distant second place.

Really, it doesn’t matter. Queens is number one. Did I mention that it’s the biggest borough? I read that in some statistic somewhere. There were actually two statistics, one of them said biggest per capita, and the other said biggest geographically. And now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t remember which one applied to Queens. The other one was the Bronx. Whatever, let’s just say that Queens is the biggest. It’s the best, and the biggest. If you’re from Queens, you know just what I’m talking about. And if you’re from Long Island and now you’re living in Queens, then you totally know even more, exactly what I’m talking about.

Originally published on Thought Catalog

Five reasons to stay inside this Spring

Everyone loves spring. “I just love spring!” That was my sister’s status update on Facebook just now. And I’m sure it was your sister’s too. Just check. See? Well, I know this might be a controversial opinion, but spring can suck it. That’s right, I hate spring. It’s the American Idol of seasons. Yes, it’s here every year, and sure, the crowds of people all look like they’re having a great time. But it’s all a big joke. Spring is a big joke. And it’s not funny. Here are five reasons to stay inside this spring.

1. Haven’t you kind of gotten used to hibernating?

Everybody likes to go on and on about how they can’t wait for the warm weather, but be honest, you’ve grown to enjoy the peace and solitude brought on by an entire season of Arctic chill. When you slept in until two in the afternoon on Saturdays, you could find some measure of solace, looking out the window, viewing the barren icescape and telling yourself, whatever, I wouldn’t have gone outside anyway. But now you’re going to start getting woken up really early in the morning to the sounds of chirping birds and all of that other springtime nonsense. “Come outside and play!” The whole world will be demanding that you get out of your comfortable bed and put on a pair of shorts.

2. You’re going to have to wear shorts

Do you like wearing shorts? That was a rhetorical question. Nobody likes wearing shorts. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for everybody, but for me, there are certain parts of the body that don’t necessarily want to be on display for everyone in the world. Which isn’t to say that I don’t have great ankles and calves. OK, you know what? Maybe I don’t need to talk specifically about me here. But shorts are annoying. They’re either too long and baggy, making you look like a little kid, or they’re way too short, making you look like a 1970s minor league basketball player. Why can’t we just all wear really loose fitting, lightweight pants? Wouldn’t those be comfortable for springtime? Or what about capris? I was promised that everybody would be wearing capris by now. Why did you lie to me, 2003 Spring J. Crew men’s catalog?

3. It’s impossible to keep up with an appropriate level of spring enthusiasm

Everybody loves spring. You have to. There’s no other alternative. It’s like, as soon as that last pile of snow melts, there’s already a group of people your age walking back from the park, and they’re all holding lacrosse sticks, just out for a nice early-spring lacrosse-toss. Where do you keep lacrosse equipment all year? Doesn’t it get really dusty? How do you all already look so impossibly tan? And you get that pit in the depths of your stomach, like holy shit, I’m doing it again, I’ve probably already done it: I’ve wasted spring. And so you make a really way-too-late effort to go to the park and post spring photos to Instagram, you hashtag stuff like #lovespring, and I don’t know what else really, I’m not too good at hashtagging. But no matter how much you try to enjoy spring, you can’t shake that feeling that you’re not really enjoying it, certainly not as much as everyone else, not the lacrosse guys, not your neighbors. Seriously, where do you guys get time to play croquet? I mean, I work a full-time job too, and I’m regularly forgetting to eat lunch.

4. We won’t get to say “Polar Vortex” anymore

Yes, this winter was a cold one. As a New Yorker, I’d never before experienced what it felt like to have a frigid wind immediately freeze to my cheeks the tears they had just a second ago forced from my eyes. I had to buy a new coat, another pair of gloves, mittens, there really didn’t exist an adequate number of layers that would have properly insulated me from temperatures that hung out around zero degrees on a daily basis. But, someone came up with the term “Polar Vortex.” And we got to say it. A lot. Surprisingly, it added a level of depth and sophistication to virtually every interaction. And there was nothing exclusive about it. Whether it was a college professor or the mentally unstable panhandler trying to stick up a subway with a banana, not a single conversation passed this season without somebody throwing a hard PV. I don’t know why it worked, but it did. It was like a very tiny packet of Mexican seasoning that turned this manager’s special ground chuck of a winter into three month long Taco Tuesday. But now it’s over. What else do I have to talk about? Nothing.

5. There is no spring

For real, spring is just a myth, a marketing strategy cooked up by advertising wizards to make you spend tons of money on spring clothing. It’s like, buy this jacket, it’s lighter than your winter coat. Or, don’t you think it would be a cool idea to wear these boat shoes? So you buy them, the jacket and the boat shoes. And it’s great for that one day after winter when the temperature outside is nice enough that you don’t need a scarf. But then a week later it’s warm. Nobody wears a jacket when it’s warm out, regardless of how lightweight the material is. It’s the same with those boat shoes, they’re made to be worn sockless, but once the temperature starts rising, your feet need socks, I’m telling you, do everybody a favor and wear some socks, OK? Because there is no spring. It’s cold, and then it’s colder, and then it’s really cold, and then it’s nice for like a day or two, and then it’s fucking hot. And you’re like, what happened to spring? There is no spring.

Originally published on Thought Catalog